The newly appointed director of what will be known ‘An Táín Arts Centre’ has big plans to fully utilise one of the town’s showpiece utilities.
The Town Hall and its adjoining two theatres, art gallery and bar were refurbished at a cost of €13 million, yet over the course of the last number of years has remained staggeringly underutilised.
It may suprise some readers to learn that the gallery has not been used for three years and that the glamourous downstairs bar has remained dormant for five years and counting.
The Town Council, which is being disbanded, have now handed over the running to a new independent body, the ‘An Táin Arts Centre Ltd’, and they have appointed Paul Hayes to the role of director.
Paul is well-known in the arts community for his work as supremo at the Babicon Arts Centre in Drogheda and for working on the ‘Tiny Dancer’ charity single in aid his niece of Lily-Mae Morrison who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
Speaking to the Democrat, Mr Hayes, says he is looking forward to the challenge of filling the programme at what he is now calling the ‘arts centre’.
“By the end of the year we want to have a show everyweek at the theatre,” says Paul. “We also want to see gallery exhibiting on a round the year basis.
“Dundalk is a town where there has been huge community involvment and culture of volunteering when it comes the Tain theatre. I want to connect with all of those community groups and to see what they have planned for the coming year and to work with them.”
While the arts centre will remain to be funded through the council, it will also look to generate its own revenue from activities and functions held at the Town Hall.
Paul is a looking to place an air conditioning unit in the smaller side theatre known as ‘The Space’.
“We want all of the facilities here to be used and we want to see the people of Dundalk come back through those front doors. .”
Paul is also looking at open air street theatre for Dundalk, a new way of experiencing drama, but out in the open and in a way that the public can interact with the show.
“I have been involved in some really successful shows that are performed outside of a theatre,” says Paul.
“We have segments on the show at different points in th e street, be it the butchers or a bookshop, and you see a different section in each location.
“An Táin Arts Centre is a sleeping giant. That’s how I look at it.”